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Asian and South Asian Heritage Month - May

ETFO's 2018 Asian & South Asian Heritage Month poster - Text version available below on this page

​ETFO's 2018 Asian and South Asian Heritage Month poster. PDF and Word versions are available for download below.

The month of May in Ontario is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of Canadians from over 30 countries that make up the Asian and South Asian diaspora.

Asian Heritage Month has been a focus of celebration in many communities across Canada since the 1990s. In December of 2001, Senator Vivienne Poy proposed a motion that was adopted by the Senate of Canada, designating May as Asian Heritage Month nationally. During May of 2002, the Government of Canada made this motion official by signing a declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. 

Who is of Asian Descent?

The definition of "Asian" may be inclusive and broad, and applies to people who come from or whose ancestors come from:

  • East Asia- China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan.
  • South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  • Central Asia - Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
  • Southeast Asia - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

What Can We Learn?

Like all cultures, Asian heritage is a diverse and ever-changing concept that has varied meanings to the different communities and generations. During Asian Heritage Month we are invited:

  • To celebrate traditional as well as contemporary Asian-Canadian culture, which includes poetry, dances, sports, music and art;
  • To learn about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of the diverse Asian heritage that makes up our Canadian communities;
  • To understand the historical journeys and ongoing struggles of diverse Asian communities;
  • To recognize individual and institutional racism both past and present, that have impacted the lives of many groups; and
  • To engage with students through lessons and discussions of prominent past events, current issues of racism and discrimination that continue to impact the many Asian communities living in Canada and to bear witness to the resistance and resilience of such groups.

It is important to recognize that Asian Canadian history is part of Canadian history and should not only be highlighted during this month but integrated throughout the school year.

Asians in Canada have a long history in the labour movement. Asian migrants and Asian Canadians have faced discrimination, exploitation and danger in many of Canada’s workplaces. Even today, many of our Asian communities experience racism and Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination on individual and institutional levels.

Workers of Asian descent have demonstrated resilience and have organized in order to disrupt laws and practices that were racist and discriminated against certain minority groups.

The following are but a few highlighted events and issues that can be explored with staff, students and communities:

  • The Continuous Journey Regulation and the Komagata Maru;
  • The Chinese Migrant Workers of the Gold Rush and Canadian Pacific Railway;
  • The Chinese Immigration Act;
  • Japanese Internment during the Second World War;
  • Anti-Asian Riots of the early 1900s; and
  • Islamophobic hate crimes in recent reports.

ETFO Programs and Resources

ETFO offers its members focused training workshops and curricular programs addressing the topics of anti-racist education, white privilege and Asian-Canadian and Diasporic content:

Equity Workshops


Re-Thinking White Privilege

This workshop takes an exploratory look at white privilege and builds awareness and understanding of what educators can do to re-think their own privilege. Opportunities will be provided to enter into professional dialogue and conversations about white privilege and other forms of privilege. Educators will examine what can be done to address privilege in themselves and their classrooms.

Islamophobia Affects All Our Students
Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards or fear of Islam or Muslims. This workshop is designed to build awareness relating to issues of Islamophobia and critically examine personal and professional biases, explore resources to meet the diverse needs of schools that represent a multiplicity of perspectives and encourage members to take further actions relating to inclusion within their classrooms, schools, families and communities.

Social Justice Begins with Me
This workshop introduces members to the Social Justice Begins with Me resource kit which is designed to help educators address issues of equity and social justice in their classrooms and assist students in developing awareness and understanding of these issues. Lesson plans for K through Grade 8 are linked to Ontario’s curriculum. Educators will learn how to engage diverse learners and create classroom environments that are safe, respectful and inclusive.

These workshops are part of the Equity Workshops 2017-2018 program for locals. Follow this link for more information on running a workshop in your local.

2017 Brochure

ETFO's Asian and South Asian Heritage Month brochure includes a background history of the significant contributions of Asian and South Asian Canadians to Canada as well as classroom and teacher related resources, weblinks for books/publications and websites to help further make classroom practice and curriculum more inclusive.

The Asian and South Asian Heritage Month brochure is available in bothPDF andWord formats.

2018 Poster

This year’s Asian heritage month poster features six innovative and inspiring Asian Canadian writers. Their works celebrate and focus on diverse identities, resistance and pride.

This year’s poster is available in bothPDF andWord formats.

Information on the authors and suggested curricular resources is available in bothPDF andWord formats.

For further information, please contact Alice Te at ate@etfo.org.

Helpful Links to Resources:

  • Government of Canada Website: Asian Heritage Month - This site provides historical Asian Canadian key events, information and resources as well as a PDF poster, featuring ways to celebrate May as Asian Heritage month.
  • CBC website: Canada’s Asian Heritage Month - RCI celebrates and highlights the Canadian histories and issues pertinent to Asians in Canada. This Website includes an audio-clip of Vivienne Poy speaking about the origins of May as Asian Heritage month. This website also offers resources that focus on Japanese Canadian, Chinese Canadian and Vietnamese Canadian histories.
  • Canada's Asian Heriage Month - This website highlights how different Canadian provinces are acknowledging and celebrating Asian Canadian history during the month of May.
  • Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival - This website features the Toronto’s Reel Asian International Film Festival and the films, events and celebrations surrounding May, 2018.
  • Prologue.org - Prologue to the Performing Arts highlights Asian focused artists and performances that can be booked in schools.
  • NFB Asian Content Films - NFB films that focus on Asian Canadian and Asian Diasporic content.